Missouri Highway Patrol trooper Anthony Piercy [left], was sentenced to 10 days in jail Tuesday.
A Missouri Highway Patrol trooper Anthony Piercy whose actions led to the drowning death of a man in his charge was sentenced to serve only 10 days in jail, Tuesday.
An hour after officer Anthony Piercy arrested Brandon Ellingson on suspicions of boating intoxicated he drowned. The incident occurred as the college student was out boating with friends on the Ozarks on May 31, 2014.
The arresting officer, State trooper Anthony Piercy, 46, did not secure the life vest he hastily threw over the man in custody. Furthermore, he only called a supervisor at 6:28 p.m. about an hour after Brandon Ellingson drowned in the Lake of the Ozarks.
Although the veteran Missouri state trooper pled guilty in connection with the drowning death of a handcuffed Ellingson, he has been sentenced to just 10 days in prison.
Anthony Piercy of the Missouri Highway Patrol will also serve two years of probation and must complete 50 hours of community service.
The Kansas City Star reported that Piercy was ordered to serve the “shock time” at a Morgan County jail in five two-day terms, by Judge Roger Prokes, to the consternation of prosecutors and the victim’s relatives.
Piercy pled guilty to a minor boating violation in connection with the May 2014 death of Brandon Ellingson, thereby avoiding charges of involuntary manslaughter in June of 2017.
In November of 2016, a federal court had awarded the Ellingson family $9million as compensation against the state of Missouri, after it was revealed that Piercy, an 18-year highway trooper, had a just two days of training before he was cleared to patrol the waters on his own.
However, the victim’s family while acknowledging that “Nine million dollars is a sizable settlement indicating that there was clearly an undeniable liability …”What the family has always wanted is for the state of Missouri to accept responsibility for what Tony Piercy did to Brandon and [the state] wrote a check [instead].”
The lawsuit was filed in December of 2014, claimed that the highway patrol and the state attempted to cover up facts of the tragedy.
Family of Missouri police drowning victim, Brandon Ellingson, demand cops admit culpability, ‘Don’t just give us blood money – own up to shielding info and cover up’
Trooper Piercy arrested Ellingson, an Iowa resident, on Lake of the Ozarks for suspicion of boating while intoxicated. After handcuffing the suspect, the arresting officer improperly put him in a life vest, prosecutors charged. An hour later, the vest came off when a wave knocked Ellingson into the water, leading him to drown. Ellingson had been left standing in the boat while cuffed.
Brandon Ellingson drowned after he was handcuffed by a state trooper boating on the Ozarks on May 31, 2014
At the time Piercy, for an 18-year highway patrol officer, had recently been assigned to the boat patrols beat after his department merged with water safety officials. His training was a scant two days.
Craig Ellingson was irate over the judge’s 10-day sentencing of his son’s killer. Piercy starts serving his sentence Friday.
“Ten days is like a vacation,” Ellingson told the Kansas City Star on Tuesday.
“It’s a joke. … He knows he’s guilty and he’s damn lucky to get what he got.”
Brandon’s dad, Craig Ellingson said“Ten days is like a vacation”. “It’s a joke. … He knows he’s guilty and he’s damn lucky to get what he got.”
Tuesday was reportedly the first time the still-grieving father was able to address Piercy, and he broke down on the stand.
“Anthony Piercy, it has been almost three and half years that I’ve waited to tell you face to face that you’re the reason why my son Brandon is dead,” an emotional Craig Ellingson said in his three-page victim impact statement.
“You had no compassion for my son.”
His wife, Sherry, and his daughter, Jennifer, were not in court Tuesday because “They didn’t want to see the guy who killed their brother and son,” Ellingson said.
An hour after a friend of Brandon Ellingson’s took this photograph where he’s sitting in the boat [left], under arrest by Trooper Anthony Piercy [right], he drowned
Tuesday’s sentencing ended three years of legal battles for Ellingson’s family.
Craig Ellingson made frequent trips from his home in Des Moines, Iowa, gave 35 depositions in Missouri, appeared before the state’s legislature to discuss water safety and attended the 2014 coroner’s report that deemed his son’s death an accident. The first taste of victory was last November they won a $9 million wrongful death lawsuit against the state after a three-year legal battle.
In court Tuesday when Piercy was the given the opportunity he apologized to the Ellingson family: “I apologize for the loss that I have caused the Ellingson family”.
“I know that nothing that I will say will ease the pain that they are feeling,” Piercy said.
“And I will never forget that I am the cause of that pain. I am truly sorry for that. Brandon should be here with them today. Thank you,” he concluded.
Prosecutors were upset by the sentencing because they sought a 30-day jail stint along with getting his law enforcement certificate taken away for life.
“It’s my hope he (Piercy) never ever serves as a law enforcement officer again,” Special Prosecutor William Camm Seay said after the sentencing.
“I’ve fulfilled my obligation but I feel like I have an obligation to the Ellingson family to see this out.”
Spokesperson for the state Highway patrol Lt. Paul Reinsch said ‘Trooper Piercy is still a member of the force, but is on unpaid leave for an extended period’.
His future with the department “is a personnel issue,” Lt. Reinsch added.